Laptop: this is a portable microcomputer having its main components (such as processor, keyboard, and display screen) integrated into a single unit capable of battery-powered operation.
Definition of Laptop
A laptop, laptop computer, or notebook computer (can be used interchangeably). This is a small, portable personal computer (PC) with a screen and alphanumeric keyboard. These typically have a “clamshell” form factor. Typically having the screen mounted on the inside of the upper lid and the keyboard on the inside of the lower lid. Although 2-in-1 PCs with a detachable keyboard are often marketed as laptops or as having a “laptop mode.”
Laptops are folded shut for transportation, and thus are suitable for mobile use. Its name comes from lap, as it was deemed practical to be placed on a person’s lap when being used. Today, laptops are the used in a variety of settings. Including but not limited to work, in education, for playing games, web browsing, for personal multimedia, and general home computer use.
At present, it is not only about having a laptop that matters. First, one requires to gauge what they intend to do with the machine. The kind of work and use determines the specifications of what to go for. As a result, the specs determine not only the service you get but also the amount of you are going to need to acquire the said product.
Laptops are compact enough to carry with you, yet versatile enough to run demanding applications. Notebooks are the best tool for doing serious work or play whether you’re at home, on the road or in a college classroom. For those reasons, find out our quick overview to help you make the right choice.
While standalone tablets and smartphones are always popular, most people realize that everything from typing a research paper to crunching videos to gaming works better on a laptop. So what type of laptop should you get?
What To Consider For an Optimum Laptop
- 12.5 to 14-inch screens offer the best balance between usability and portability. Larger screens are fine if you don’t travel much and smaller models are great for kids.
- If you’re spending over 60k, shoot for these minimum specs: Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPU 1920 x 1080 screen 8GB of RAM and SSD Storage instead of a hard drive.
- 9+ hours of battery life is ideal if you plan to take your laptop anywhere at all.
- Consider a 2-in-1 laptop (either a bendback or detachable) if you want to use your laptop as a tablet. If not, a standard clamshell notebook may be a better choice.
- Chromebooks are good for kids and students and their functionality is expanding rapidly. Windows 10 laptops and MacBooks both offer plenty of functionality; which platform you prefer is a matter of personal taste.
Choose a platform that suits you and the kind of work you intend to use it for.
Most laptops come with one of three operating systems: Windows, Chrome OS or MacOS (for MacBooks only). Choosing the right one is a personal preference, but here’s a quick summary of what each offers.
Apart from the platform, you can decide if you want a 2 in 1 laptop or not. However, if you don’t see the need to use your notebook as a slate, you’ll usually get more performance for your money with a traditional clamshell laptop.
Get the size that suits your work and taste.
Laptops are usually categorized by their display sizes:
- 11 to 12 inches: The thinnest and lightest systems around have 11- to 12-inch screens and typically weigh 2.5 to 3.5 pounds.
- 13 to 14 inches: Provides the best balance of portability and usability, particularly if you get a laptop that weighs under 4 pounds.
- 15 to 16 inches: The most popular size, 15-inch laptops usually weigh 4 to 5.5 pounds. Consider this size if you want a larger screen and you’re not planning to carry your notebook around often. Laptops with 16-inch displays are rare but Apple might get the trend started with its 16-inch MacBook Pro.
- 17 to 18 inches: If your laptop stays on your desk all day every day, a 17- or 18-inch system could provide you with the kind of processing power you need to play high-end games or do workstation-level productivity.
In addition to the above, choose the best specs that suit your need. Picking the best processor, hard drive, RAM and graphics chip can confuse even notebook aficionados, so don’t feel bad if spec sheets look like alphabet soup to you.
What to Check
CPU: The “brains” of your computer, the processor has a huge influence on performance, but depending on what you want to do, even the least-expensive model may be good enough. Here’s a rundown:
- Intel 11th Gen CPUs: Intel introduced 1th Gen Tiger Lake processors that will power the next generation of laptops. To summarize, Tiger Lake — a 10-nanometer chip — offers improved integrated Iris Xe graphics with up to 4.8Ghz speeds as well as Thunderbolt 4 support. The new EVO brand sets parameters for top laptops, including a minimum of 9 hours of battery life.
- Intel Core i9: Supplanting the Core i7 as the top-of-the-line CPU from Intel, Core i9 processors provide faster performance than any other mobile chip. Available only on premium laptops, workstations and high-end gaming rigs, Core i9 CPUs are only worth their premium price if you’re a power user who uses the most demanding programs and apps.
- Intel Core i7: A step up from Core i5, models with numbers that end in HQ or K use higher wattage and have four cores, allowing for even faster gaming and productivity. There are also Core i7 Y series chips that have lower power and performance. Keep an eye out for CPUs that have a 10 in the model number because they are part of Intel’s latest, 10th and 11th Gen Generation Core Series, and offer better performance.
- Intel Core i5: If you’re looking for a mainstream laptop with the best combination of price and performance, get one with an Intel Core i5 CPU. Models that end in U are the most common. Those with a Y in the name are low power and have worse performance while models with an HQ use more wattage and appear in thicker gaming and workstation systems. Intel’s newest 11th Generation Tiger Lake CPUs have four cores, and a number of useful features, including Wi-Fi 6 support, Thunderbolt 4 integration and better AI.
- Intel Core i3: Performance is just a step below Core i5 and so is the price. If you can possibly step up to a Core i5, we recommend it.
- Intel Xeon: Extremely powerful and expensive processors for large mobile workstations. If you do professional-grade engineering, 3D modeling or video editing, you might want a Xeon, but you won’t get good battery life or a light laptop.
- Intel Pentium / Celeron: Common in sub $400 laptops, these chips offer the slowest performance, but can do if your main tasks are web surfing and light document editing. If you can pay more to get a Core i3 or i5, you’d be better off.
- Intel Core m / Core i5 / i7 “Y Series:” Low-power and low heat allow systems with these processors to go fanless. Performance is better than Celeron, but a notch below regular Core U series.
- AMD Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000: A new set of chips that are designed to compete with Intel Core i5 and Core i7. We’ve found Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000 chips to outperform equivalent Intel Core processors. For example, the Ryzen 5 4500U CPU delivers about the same performance as an Intel Core i7 CPU. Not only do you get great performance and endurance but Ryzen 4000 and Ryzen 5000-equipped laptops tend to be cheaper than their Intel counterparts.
- AMD A, FX or E Series: Found on low-cost laptops, AMD’s processors — the company calls them APUs rather than CPUs — provide decent performance for the money that’s good enough for web surfing, media viewing and productivity.
- Apple M1: The first of Apple’s custom silicon, the ARM-based M1 chip crushes the competition when it comes to raw performance and endurance. Found on the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro
Is that enough?
RAM: Some sub-$250 laptops come with only 4GB of RAM, but ideally you want at least 8GB on even a budget system and 16GB if you can spend just a little more. For most folks, 32GB or more is more than enough while 64GB and above is reserved for power users.
Storage Drive (SSD): Even more important than the speed of your CPU is the performance of your storage drive. If you can afford it and don’t need a ton of internal storage, get a laptop with a solid state drive (SSD) rather than a hard drive, because you’ll see at least three times the speed and a much faster laptop overall.
Among SSDs, the newer PCIe x4 (aka NVME) units offer triple the speed of traditional SATA drives. Sub-25k laptops use eMMC memory, which is technically solid-state but not faster than a mechanical hard drive.
Display: The more pixels you have, the more content you can fit on-screen, and the sharper it will look. Sadly, some budget laptops still have 1366 x 768 displays and so do a few business laptops, but if you can afford it, we recommend paying extra for a panel that runs at 1920 x 1080, also known as Full HD or 1080p. Higher-end laptops have screens that are 2560 x 1600, 3200 x 1800 or even 3840 x 2160 (4K), which all look sharp but consume more power, lowering your battery life.
Display quality is about much more than resolution. IPS panels range in color and brightness, so read our reviews to find out if the laptop your considering has a good display. We typically look for an sRGB color rating of over 100% and brightness great than 300 nits results. If you want the very best picture quality and don’t care about battery life, consider an OLED display. You should also keep an eye out for upcoming display technology to hit laptops, including miniLED.
Touch Screen: If you’re buying a regular clamshell laptop, rather than a 2-in-1, you won’t get much benefit from a touch screen and you will get 1 to 2 hours less battery life. On 2-in-1s, touch screens come standard. If you still want a touch screen, check out our best touch screen laptops page.
Graphics Chip: If you’re not playing PC games, creating 3D objects or doing high-res video editing, an integrated graphics chip (one that shares system memory) will be fine, especially Intel’s latest Iris Xe graphics. If you have any of the above needs, though, a discrete graphics processor from Nvidia or AMD is essential.
As with CPUs, there are both high- and low-end graphics chips. Low-end gaming or workstation systems today usually have Nvidia MX450 or GTX 1660 GPUs while mid-range models have RTX 2050 or RTX 2060 and high-end models have 30-series chips like the RTX 3070 or 3080 GPUs. Nvidia maintains a list of its graphics chips from low to high end.
Nvidia’s rivals, AMD, is Apple’s vendor of choice for graphics cards, although you really shouldn’t buy a MacBook for gaming. AMD launched the Radeon RX 5600M and the Radeon RX 5700M GPUs last year. AMD also keeps a list of its graphics cards.
Ports: While the absence of ports is usually not a deal-breaker when choosing a laptop, it’s helpful to get the connections you need right on the system, rather than having to carry a slew of dongles. Most mainstream laptops will have USB 3.0 ports and HDMI out for video. However, an increasing number of laptops use USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 ports that are USB Type-C compatible.
Getting Type-C is a definite plus because you can use it to connect to universal chargers and docks. If you can wait, USB 4 will arrive soon with faster transfer rates and the ability to daisy-chain 4K monitors with one cable. Other useful connections include SD card slots, headphone jacks and Ethernet ports (especially if you’re a gamer).
Connectivity: If you need to use your laptop on the go, consider buying a notebook with 4G LTE or 5G support. You’ll have to pay for a data subscription plan, but this will allow you to access the internet away from a router. If you want a laptop with the latest and greatest connectivity options, find one with Wi-Fi 6 support. Wi-Fi 6 offers increased theoretical throughputs and a more stable connection than 802.11ac.
We also suggest looking for a laptop with Bluetooth 5, the latest standard that offers improved connectivity with Bluetooth-enabled devices, like mice and headphones.
DVD/Blu-ray Drives: Few laptops come with optical drives, because all software and movies are downloadable, though we’ve kept track of the laptops with DVD drives. However, if you really need to read/write discs and your laptop of choice doesn’t come with a built-in DVD drive, you can always buy an external one that connects via USB for under 2k.
Now, About Battery Life
If you’re buying a large, bulky notebook or a gaming rig that you’ll use only on a desk near an outlet, you don’t have to worry about battery life. However, if you plan to use the laptop on your lap, even if it’s at home and or work, you’ll want at least 7 hours of endurance, with 8+ hours being ideal. To determine a notebook’s expected battery life, don’t take the manufacturer’s word for it. Instead, read third-party results from objective sources, such as reviews.
People say brands don’t matter. However, your laptop is only as good as the company that stands behind it.
These days, you can buy a usable laptop Kenya for under 20k, but if you can budget more, you’ll get a system with better build quality, stronger performance and a better display.
In Nairobi, task Laptop Clinic to deliver genuine, warranted machines of your choice. Delivery services are also available outside Nairobi. Remember to share your feedback on your happiness!
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